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Defragging your computer – how and why

Defragging your computer – how and why

You’ve probably heard the term ‘defragging’ or ‘defrag’ if you’ve been using a computer for a while, but do you know what it is, why we do it, and how to do it yourself?

What is defragging?

Defragging = De-fragmenting
So, defragging is the process of putting the fragments of something back together into a whole item. In this instance, the fragments that are being re-assembled are the files on your hard disk drive.

Why are there fragments of files on my computer?

When you store data on your computer, the operating system (Microsoft Windows is used as the example in this blog as it’s the system you probably have on your computer) writes the information onto the hard disk drive in blocks of data. In an ideal world, this block of data is in one continous chunk on the disk drive as this enables the computer to retrieve it quickly.

However, as we delete files here and there, we free up small blocks of space in between other files. To ensure this space is used, making efficient use of the space on our hard disk drive, the system will write a file back into the space when required. If the file is larger than that particular block of space it is split up – creating a fragment on the disk. A very large file can end up being split into a lot of fragments.

Visually, here is a simple example:

Non fragmented data:

File 1 File 2 File 3 File 4

Fragmented data:

File 1 50% of File 2 File 3 50% of File 2 File 4

 Why are fragmented files bad?

Fragmented files aren’t bad on their own, they are a natural occurrence and it’s almost impossible to have no fragmentation on your hard disk.

Lots of fragmented files are the real issue. If you have lots of bits of files spread all over the hard disk drive, the computer has to work harder to find these pieces when you want to open that file. This makes the computer react slower than it should.

Defragmenting the computer puts the files back in to continuous chunks, which can improve the speed of the machine.

How do you run a defrag?

The simplest way is to use the built in Windows defragmentation program, which works well for this task.

The instructions below are split into 2 sections – Windows XP to Windows 7, and a Window 8 instruction set. If you’re not sure which you need, try the first set – if you can’t find the items or the steps don’t make sense, try the Windows 8 process instead.

Running Defrag on Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7

  • Click on your Start menu/button
  • Click on the ‘Computer’ or ‘My Computer’ link on the right hand side of the Start menu
  • Right click on your main hard disk drive – usually labelled C: – and choose properties
  • Click the ‘Tools’ tab in the window that appears
  • You’ll see a section of the window regarding Defragmentation. Press the ‘Defragment now’ button to start the Defrag application
  • In the Defrag application, press the button that says either ‘Defrag’ or ‘Defragment Now’ (depending on Windows version)
  • Wait… Defrag can take a long time (sometimes hours) to run. You’ll see a progress indication – either from a ‘Percentage completed’ column on the screen or a bar at the bottom left hand corner of the window to let you know how it’s getting on.

Running Defrag on Windows 8

  • Click on the ‘Desktop’ application from the Start screen
  • Click on the File Explorer icon in your task bar (Yellow folders) or put the mouse into the bottom left hand corner until you see the ‘Start’ icon then right click and choose ‘File Explorer’
  • In the left hand pane, click on ‘Computer’
  • In the right hand pane, rightclick on your main hard disk drive – usually labelled C: – and choose properties
  • Click the ‘Tools’ tab in the window that appears
  • You’ll see a section of the window called ‘Optimize and Defragment drive’. Press the ‘Optimize’ button to start the Defrag application
  • Press the ‘Optimize’ button in the application that appears.
  • Wait… Disk optimization can take a long time (sometimes hours) to run. You’ll see a progress indication on the screen telling you how much it’s done so far.

How often should you run defrag?

For most users, a monthly defrag will be fine.
If you’re a 1-Fix VIP customer, you don’t need to do any of this as we automatically run defrag for you on a weekly basis in the background. We also do a manual defrag if needed during your on-site check-up visits! Not a VIP? You need to find out some more about it!!

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